Western Washington University Assistant Professor of Health and Human Development Kristen Chmielewski has won the History of Education Society’s 2020 Eggertsen Dissertation Prize.
Her dissertation, “’In Any Way Physically or Mentally Unfit to Teach’: City Teachers and Disability, 1930–1970,” takes on the notion of how ideas and norms about disability shaped the experiences of teachers.
“Whenever I would tell people that I was studying the history of disability in U.S. education, most people would assume that I studied special education,” Chmielewski said. “Historians have yet to trace the ways in which ideas about disability have influenced norms, practices, and policies that affected everyone, disabled or not, within the educational system.”
This examination, which has spanned the course of four years, specifically looks at teachers in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Detroit between 1930 and 1970. According to Chmielewski, her work adds to both the conversation surrounding the national history of disability and to that of the national history of teachers.
The History of Education Society is a scholarly society that seeks to promote, improve and encourage the teaching of the history of education. The Claude A. Eggertsen Dissertation Prize is awarded for outstanding work in the field of educational history and comes with $1,000 prize.
Following her win Chmielewski said that she will visit a few archives to add more sources and revise the dissertation into a book manuscript.